A positive mindset helps your child to progress with discipline, self-motivation and resilience both in school and in life.
Having a positive outlook in our circumstances reaps health benefits like lower rates of distress and better psychological well-being. It also helps an individual cope better in times of high stress and pressure.
And because the school years are the crucial times for mental and social maturity, it’s important to guide your child in developing a positive learning mindset.
Here are five ways we build this mindset in our students at The Learning Lab. Try practising them with your child at home.
1. Practise Positive Self-talk
Studies have found that individuals who have an overly inflated or deflated view of their academic performance struggle to keep their motivation on a positive high as compared to individuals who view themselves more realistically.
According to behavioural scientists, this makes sense because if a pontifical individual has supercilious views of themself, it may feel like there is no need to put any extra effort into self-improvement.
The same applies to the other end of the psychological spectrum. If an individual already feels worthless and incompetent, they may feel like there’s no point in even trying to do better next time.
To reach a healthy middle ground, we should teach children to be fair and kind to themselves. Making positive self-talk a habit can increase your child’s confidence in tackling tasks, no matter the result of previous ones.
Here are some examples.
|Negative self-talk||Positive self-talk|
|What if I fail and embarrass myself when trying this new activity?||I’ll give it a try. If it goes well, it could become a new skill or passion. If it doesn’t go well, it will be another new experience — at least I can say I tried!|
|I have failed my team by not contributing to our success.||I may not have done as well as I’d hoped, but winning or losing is a collective effort. I’m still grateful for that team experience. It taught me how to work as part of a group.|
By helping children find the silver lining in every situation, we build a generation of resilient and eager learners who are open to the result of every experience — regardless of their ability.
2. Praise Efforts, Not Abilities
It has been observed that children who were taught to attribute their failures or misgivings to a lack of effort subsequently showed improved results.
On the other hand, children who were taught to attribute their failures to a lack of ability tend to became discouraged even in areas where they are capable.
A reason for this is that children who place a high value on performance tend to see tasks as a challenge to their self-image and each setback as a personal threat. As a result, they only pursue activities that they’re sure to shine in, and avoid the sorts of experiences necessary to grow and flourish in any endeavour.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to praise your child, but stay mindful of how you deliver that praise. Place more focus on your child’s growth or effort rather than on the resulting outcome.
For example, if your child has revised thoroughly and scored well for an important test, praise the amount of practice and enthusiasm he or she put into revision instead of the absolute score your child achieved.
You could say something like, “I know you worked really hard to prepare for this test — your diligence and effort have paid off. I’m proud of you!” as opposed to, “You scored an A* for the test! Well done.”
3. Convey the Importance of Perseverance
Learning to persevere is a vital part of developing a positive learning mindset. It will help your child approach and deal with challenges (and possible failures) in a positive and constructive manner.
Parents play a critical role in helping children develop perseverance. Supporting or motivating your child through a difficult task helps him or her realise that the answer is not to give up but to try again with a better method or at a more appropriate time.
We suggest incorporating the word “yet” into your conversations with your child. For instance, instead of saying “Maybe ABC is not one of your strengths,” a better approach is to add “yet” to the end of the sentence: “Maybe ABC is not one of your strengths yet”.
If you hear your child saying, “I don’t know how to answer that question,” you can motivate your child by saying, “Well, you don’t know the answer yet”. You can then suggest a method your child can try, such as breaking down the question or selecting more appropriate answering techniques.
Alternatively, you might try saying, “It’s okay, try not to be too hard on yourself. You haven’t mastered it yet but you’re getting close”. This is one way to develop your child’s internal motivation and perseverance — by helping him or her realise that these efforts will eventually pay off.
If your child needs to make adjustments to his or her plans, let your child know that is okay to take time to reevaluate his or her steps.
What is most important is to not give up; to set new milestones and keep going. Over time, your child will need less external support from you and feel confident enough to tackle these challenges on his or her own.
4. Emphasise that Practice is Not Just About Doing
They say practice makes perfect. However, it is important to note that practice isn’t just a repetitive process. It’s also about evaluating progress and refining the process for maximum improvement.
Deliberate practice involves a combination of attention, rehearsal and repetition.
By reflecting on the process, each practice leads to the growth of new knowledge or skills that can later be developed into more complex knowledge and skills.
Help your child engage in deliberate practice by asking the following questions:
- What went well and what didn’t go so well during that practice?
- How did you feel during that attempt? Was there anything you felt you could have done better?
- That was a good attempt. If you were to try it again, what would you do differently?
How can this help your child?
Making this reflection process a good habit is important, especially during the weeks leading up to a key examination because it makes for purposeful and smart revision.
Often, students tend to rush through their revision in a bid to cover more material. Instead, it’s more important to think about how past experiences of revision can contribute to a more effective and productive process in the present.
This can be as simple as getting your child to read through his or her past work — that includes completed work, as well as corrections.
Analysing and reviewing past mistakes is a good way to engage in reflective learning. It helps your child become more mindful about avoiding careless errors in his or her next attempt at the practice papers or exams.
Listing down key learning points or areas of improvement after attempting each practice paper goes a long way in helping your child track and realise how much progress he or she has made over time.
5. Focus on Finding Solutions
Problem-solving can be a fun part of the culture in your home. If something gets broken, ask an open-ended question, such as, “How do you think we can fix this?” or “What do you think we should do next?”
These types of questions give your child the mental space and cognitive push to firstly understand what created the problem, and secondly how to move past it by focusing on a solution.
When faced with hurdles or challenges, guide your child in working through the problems instead of solving them on your child’s behalf.
Letting your child be the one to find solutions will encourage the development of critical thinking skills. Who knows, your child may even surprise you with a creative solution you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.
An effective way to help your child get better at problem-solving is to break the main problem into smaller, manageable tasks. A step-by-step approach will help your child feel more confident about managing the problem.
Naturally, your child may face setbacks and disappointments in the process. Help your child understand that some problems need more time and effort to solve or overcome. In these instances, you can:
- Offer tips or hints to help your child come up with the solution
- Share your own experience in solving a similar problem
- Encourage your child and guide him or her in the right direction
By learning how to handle these frustrations, your child will become more confident and competent in problem-solving.
Instilling Optimism Towards Learning
By encouraging your child to adopt an optimistic learning mindset, you are contributing to his or her emotional intelligence, optimistic outlook on life and openness to take on the challenges ahead.
Inculcating positive learning dispositions is one of the cornerstones of TLL’s teaching and learning model. We build on our students’ confidence, positivity and individuality through our preschool to pre-tertiary classes that allow them to work, think and act independently.
By providing ample opportunities for our students to learn, explore and grow, we believe that they will gain many valuable life lessons that will equip them for the future.
Through fun, interactive and relevant lessons spanning from preschool to pre-tertiary, our students are empowered to think beyond the confines of the classroom. We motivate them to do their best in school whilst learning to dream big, plan well and achieve success.
Click here to find out more about how our research-backed core programmes can help prepare your child to deal with every curveball that life throws their way.